It’s not for the first time I said this, but you just gotta love this Internet thing. The big news this morning of course is the leak of some 90,000 classified US military documents from Afghanistan. Guardians of state and military secrets are horrified: troops’ lives will be at risk, they say. What they should recognize is that the fact that we live in an open society, far from being a weakness, is really our greatest strength. Open discussion of the pros and cons, the successes and failures, the risks and possible outcomes of a war is part of living in a liberal democracy.
As to the release itself, it’s funny how times are changing. When I learned the database language SQL ages ago, it was because I make my living as a computer professional. I did not necessarily expect to use my SQL skills in scientific endeavors, but that, too, came to pass when I began using the wonderfully crafted SQL-based query interface of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. What I certainly never expected is that one day, a journalistic leak will arrive in a variety of formats, perhaps the most useful of which is an SQL dump. I wonder: do they teach the building of SELECT queries in journalism school these days?